Building a Home
If a resale home isn't what you are looking for and you don't feel like buying a new home "off the rack", then here are a few things to think about before having a home built.
When choosing a home builder, first decide on the region, area or neighbourhood where you want to live. Then visit local show homes to find builders offering the size, price range and quality you are looking for. Or identify custom built homes you like and find out who produced them. Don't be afraid to knock on someone's door and ask "Who built your home?" - most people will be flattered.
If you want custom building or special features, choose a builder who stresses those aspects. Your best bet is a builder who produces what you want on a regular basis. Look for a proven track record in the style, size and quality you are interested in. Ask the builder for recent references you can contact to ask about his skill and ability to meet deadlines.
Don't get hung up on a simple formula of cost per square foot. Shop for specifications. Quality should be the factor you pay most attention to - details such as windows, cabinets, flooring, woodwork and other things. Also determine exactly what the purchase price includes. Model homes you view may contain extras that aren't included in the standard purchase price. It is often a good idea to choose a home and a builder before buying a lot. The size or shape of a lot can restrict the kind of home that can be built on it. Usually a builder can provide a lot to suit the size and model of house you have chosen. On the other hand, if you consider the size, shape or look of your lot to be as important as your house, it is worth spending time and effort shopping for the right piece of land.
Builders usually have a catalogue of home designs for you to choose from. If you want modifications, most builders will be willing to oblige, but be prepared to pay more for design and material changes. An option is to have an architect custom-design a home for you if you are willing to pay extra for both the design and for any out-of-the ordinary construction. There are magazines and newspapers offering mail-order home plans, but be careful to choose plans suitable for Manitoba's climate, local zoning, lot sizes and construction code.
Some people act as their own builder by picking a design, buying a lot, getting permits and insurance, subcontracting tradespeople and perhaps doing some of the work themselves. The advantage to this is that you can pay close personal attention to every aspect of construction as it's happening. A disadvantage is that you could end up paying more for subcontracting and materials, since you usually won't get the same wholesale rates as builders.
Also, if you do it yourself, you don't get a warranty. Many builders are registered in the New Home Warranty Program of Manitoba and are covered by a one-year warranty on workmanship and materials and a five-year warranty against major structural defects caused by builder negligence. The warranties can be transferred to a home's next buyer if they haven't expired, so don't forget to ask sellers of recently-constructed homes about the program.
Overseeing the building of your home can be fulfilling, but only if you have considerable experience to rely on and a great deal of time available. On average, a new home takes two or three months to complete from the time a building permit is issued to the day you move in. Although most homes are built in the spring and summer, home building is a year-round business and construction can be timed to suit your preferences.
Before signing a contract to purchase a new home, it may be a good idea to have your lawyer check it out, or have the offer conditional on your lawyers approval. While it is unlikely that there would be anything objectionable or out of the ordinary in the contract, builders do not have a contract that is standard in the industry (as there is for resale housing); it would be a good idea, then, to let your lawyer know ahead of time what your (and your lawyers') obligations will be and what the conditions of sale are.
A building contact should be specific about the quality of materials used, as well as model names and numbers of any appliances included in the purchase. Don't leave anything to chance. The contract should state who is responsible for cleaning up the building site and for damage to the surroundings. It should also state who is responsible for obtaining any permits, variances and inspections needed.
A well-written contract should state deadlines for various aspects of construction and what happens if they are not met. You should also check progress regularly before taking possession. You and your builder should do a final inspection together just before you take possession, to note things such as work that's unfinished, not properly completed or fails short of your expectations. You will normally sign a final inspection document that serves as a contract for any work left to be done.
Builders may require payment by instalments, either by you personally or by your lending institution if you have obtained financing. To make sure the work is completed to your satisfaction, a small percentage of each payment can be held back under the provisions of The Builders Liens Act. A typical instalment plan might include 1 0 per cent as a deposit, 40 per cent after completion of the roof, 25 per cent after the drywall is up and the balance paid when you take possession.
Where a new subdivision borders an older, more established neighbourhood it's possible to compare the price of similar new and resale homes, but what you buy is usually a lifestyle decision rather than a financial one. Older homes often have garages, mature landscaping and other benefits, while new homes feature modern materials, the latest designs and minimal maintenance. It's a matter of personal preference.